First complete saw

Last week, I finally finished off that Jackson backsaw that I’d been working on since before the dawn of history. Here’s what it looks like when all was said and done:

Skipping back a few entries, this is what it looked like before I did any work:

As you may recall from the last episode, I messed up badly and had to reshape the teeth before I got to the final stage of pointing (sharpening/filing the fleam). But finally I got to print out my tricky-dicky PostScript fleam guide and use it properly. Here’s how it looks in use:

All you do is align the file over each line and take a few strokes. This picture was shot after the first half of the teeth were done, so you can see how every other tooth is a little shorter. It evened out very nicely, just as it was supposed to, and when viewed end-on, the “valley” that you’re supposed to see between a crosscut saw’s teeth was there. Fantastic.

The tip of this saw isn’t in good shape. There’s a kink in it, and the teeth are especially uneven there. Because it’s only about an inch and a half of steel, I’m considering taking the moderately drastic measure of hacking off the tip. I likely already would have, except that I don’t have a machinist’s vise yet.

I didn’t do anything to the handle of this saw, either. Unfortunately, it’s shot; it’s soft almost all the way through, making it hard for the sawnuts to get a grip. The sawnuts are also in bad shape. So I just put it back together so that it wouldn’t be too loose. There’s no point in fussing with it any more; if I want to improve the handle, I’ll need to make a new one. (This is not a bad idea, because I like the shape of the handle and have this fantasy of eventually making my own saws.)

Well, so much for the saw’s looks. A more important question is, “How does it cut?” I’m happy to report that it’s great. Due to its somewhat aggressive rake angle and the relatively low number of teeth per inch, there is moderate tearout, but it saws quickly and with very little effort.

For some reason, I don’t particularly expect to use this saw much. It should be fine for cutting smaller boards down to size in a miter box, and for cutting down the shoulders of tenons, but it’s too small for large boards, and because it’s a crosscut saw, it’s useless for sawing down the cheeks or anything else that’s a rip operation. That’s fine, though. My next two saw projects really ought to be full rip and crosscut handsaws.

I’m a little relieved that my two candidates for those two saws are in much, much better shape than this thing when it started out…

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